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  • Curington Law, LLC

Understanding the Different Types of Trademarks: Word Marks and Design Marks



Trademarks play a crucial role in the world of business. A registered trademark is an essential tool that can make or break a company's success in the marketplace. It is a unique symbol, design, word, or phrase that represents a company's brand identity and distinguishes it from its competitors. In trademark law, there are different types of trademarks, including word marks and design marks. Both of them protect different attributes of a brand. But what is the difference between them? Our blog post will explain the distinction between word marks and design marks in trademark law.



Word Marks

A word mark is a type of trademark that exclusively consists of text. It can be a single word or a combination of words, letters, or numbers. Word marks can be popular slogans, brand names, or catchy taglines that have become synonymous with a certain product or service. For instance, "Just Do It" is a famous word mark of Nike. If a company intends to register a word mark, the trademark application should clearly specify the exact wording, font type, and color of the mark. A unique aspect of word marks is that they can be distinctive by adding or removing letters, or by changing the font style. However, establishing a strong association between a word mark and a brand requires consistent and prolonged use of the word mark.


Design Marks

In contrast, design marks primarily consist of graphic elements, such as logos or symbols, and do not include any text. They are exclusive and recognizable designs that represent a brand and its products. Unlike word marks, design marks should be uniquely designed and meet the distinctiveness requirement of trademark law. One of the essential criteria a design mark should meet is that it should not resemble or infringe the rights of another registered trademark. Therefore, it is essential to conduct a trademark search and clearance before applying for a design mark.


Combined marks

Word marks and design marks can be combined to create a more comprehensive and unique brand identity. Combined Marks can include both text and graphic elements, which help in identifying the brand in the market. They are more effective in acquiring trademark rights as they offer more extensive protection by covering both textual and graphical elements of the brand. Therefore, business owners who intend to register their brand as a combined mark should develop a unique combination of the text and graphical elements.


In conclusion, trademarks are essential for establishing brand recognition and building trust among consumers. Registering the right type of trademark can protect a company's valuable intellectual property assets. Word marks primarily protect textual elements, while design marks exclusively protect graphic elements. It is important to understand the differences between these types of trademarks to make an informed decision. In some cases, a combination of both may be appropriate. Therefore, it is important to consult an experienced Intellectual Property lawyer who can guide you through the process and provide you with relevant advice that is most beneficial for your business.


If you have trademark related questions, or would like to register your trademark, contact Curington Law, LLC at (312) 766-6671 or online.

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